This policy brief describes the current status of Yemen’s health sector, which is suffering from the consequences of prolonged and ongoing armed conflict, economic decline, and institutional collapse.
Availability of functioning health infrastructure, such as hospitals and primary care centers, has dwindled under the weight of conflict, with a significant share of the population having challenges with access to health care. Currently, only 50% of health facilities are fully functional, and over 80% of the population faces significant challenges in reaching food, drinking water and access to health care services. Shortages of human resources, equipment, and supplies are severely hindering healthcare provision. Furthermore, conflict has exacerbated health challenges and resulted in weak governance for the healthcare sector.
Difficulties in the provision of health service are reflected through worsening health outcomes. Reporting on the health status of Yemenis points to deteriorating health conditions amidst the ongoing conflict. These include high levels of child malnutrition, low immunization rates and outbreaks of communicable diseases. Maternal and child health are particularly affected by the worsening situation, with latest estimates pointing to one mother and six newborns dying every two hours. Additionally, conflict has also taken a direct toll on the health the population and is now estimated to the third main cause of death in Yemen, following ischemic heart disease and neonatal disorders.
Decreased external funding for health, coupled with unprecedented challenges such as COVID-19, raise uncertainty about the future of health services in Yemen. Yemen’s health system is extremely reliant on external funding and the provision of health services is primarily done through implementing organizations, with a weak health system and an overreliance on development partners executing vertical health programs. External financing for health has dropped drastically from previous years, leaving Yemen’s health system exposed to looming threats such as COVID-19.